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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Which Way Did They Go, George?

I love making lists. I don’t know why; perhaps it brings some order to the craziness going on in my head. My therapist once told me that it was my coping mechanism for trying to control the emotional chaos I experienced growing up, and I think there is a great deal of truth in that hypothesis. Regardless of the cause, I love my lists and I take great care in developing them. No willy-nilly picking names out of a hat for this girl; I deliberate, edit, add and subtract until there is harmony in my heart over whom or what makes the cut. 

There is my “10 Foods to bring to the Deserted Island list”, for instance. I have been working on this one for two years and so far only five have made it. In no particular order they are; Cheeseburgers, Pizza, Chocolate, Peanut Butter (smooth, all-natural), and the latest, Cheesecake. Also in contention are Salted Peanuts, Bran Flakes and Chilean Sea Bass.

I have a “10 Greatest Recorded Songs of All Time” list as well. This one probably has been in the making for at least ten years, maybe longer. So far, only “Amazing Grace” (any version, even bagpipes), Glenn Miller’s “Moonlight Serenade”, and Billie Holiday’s “You Don’t Know What Love Is” are definite. My only criteria for choosing a song is the same as for food; I’m assuming I’ll be on the deserted island and these will have to keep me satisfied for the rest of my life, so I have to be very careful. I am considering Sly and the Family Stone’s “Dance to the Music” right now. I think it has a very good chance.

The third and final working list is “The 10 Greatest Writers Ever”. This one has proved a bit easier mainly because I only have to go back over my life to know which of them influenced me the most. So far there are seven. They are;

Thomas Paine- The original muckraker and embedded reporter, ole Tom made no bones about wanting the colonies to separate from England. Believe it or not, there was great division in America over the wisdom in doing so. Tom, bitch-slapped the undecided, and told the money-grubbing Tories to go back to England and kiss the king’s ass over there; they weren’t welcome in his new, upstart republic He was an unabashed Washington groupie and traveled with the Colonial Army throughout the Revolution. His reporting, in his fire-in-the-belly style, makes the mythical heroes of our nation’s birth and the events which surrounded it, come to life.

Mark Twain- Good satire should be biting, consciousness-raising stuff. Marky Mark never shied away from it, whether in is his abolitionist writings, his coverage of the Boxer Rebellion in China, or just simply pointing out the hypocrisies of the general public. Twain took all kinds of heat for his writing, but nevertheless endured to become the icon he remains today. There are still some who have tried to ban his works in libraries and schools, but it seems that even 102 years after his death, they can’t shut him up.

Ayn Rand- Ten years to create a philosophy that is winning converts to this day! While I don’t agree with 100 percent of her ideas, the sentiment of Atlas Shrugged changed my life. This immigrant, who spoke no English and fled from the oppression of Bolshevik Russia, came here and turned the world on its ear with her message of  self-fulfillment for the good of society.

Jack Kerouac- On the Road and Dharma Bums is jazz in writing. Kerouac’s be-bop style of living wasn’t all cupcakes and ice cream; in fact it was in many ways a paean to the petulance and rebellion so typical of the youthful. But his pit bull, lock-jawed vice grip on the neck of life and his seemingly unquenchable desire to taste it all,  in many ways responds and harmonizes with the sentiment expressed Atlas Shrugged, albeit on a much more hedonistic bent. Without him and these books, the revolution of the 60s and 70s might not have taken place. I dig him the most!

Jean Shepherd- Shep had, without a doubt, the greatest influence on me as writer. I first came across him through the magic of a tiny Japanese-made transistor radio back in the early 1960s. This master story-teller riveted me as I lay under my blanket while listening to his WOR radio broadcasts. His recreation of the middle class, blue collar America of the 1940s and 1950s in the books, In God We Trust-All Others Pay Cash, Wanda Hickey’s Night of Golden Memories, and A Fistful of Fig Newtons, brought the art of writing to me in living color for the first time in my young life . Never before had I been able to see characters as brilliantly drawn as I did when I was being introduced to Flick, Schwartz, Grover Dill, and the Old Man. Shepherd did for writing what Norman Rockwell did for illustrating and more; he showed slices of the American Experience with all the cracks, shortcomings, and armor chinks, while still managing to make you laugh out loud.

George Carlin- Brilliant... Caustic... Honest... Fearless... and outrageously funny. He was, in my opinion, The greatest stand-up comedian of the 20th Century (and most likely this one as well). Carlin set the standard for all of us who purport to call ourselves comedians: his work should be included in college writing courses, not just for the razor sharp grammatical presentations of his works, but also for the biting criticism of the state of our society. Carlin is also on my newly formed list of 10 People I’d most like to hang out with.

George Orwell- The other George in my life, Mr. Orwell’s 1984 simply scared the living shit out of me in the 7th grade, mostly because I was supremely convinced that Communists were going to show up in Fairview, New Jersey one Sunday morning while we were all in church, take us as slaves and force us to work in a tractor factory. Orwell confirmed my worst fears that being overtaken by Communists could only result in a life of endless brainwashing and rats gnawing at my eyes. I can clearly remember dreading the actual 1984 as it drew closer and closer. Even as a reasonable adult, I was still certain that Reagan would sell us down the river, and one day, reruns of I Love Lucy would be replaced with I Love Lenin.

 I was thinking about Orwell today, for no apparent reason, and it got me to thinking about the influence of great writers on us all. Each of the above affected me in a profound way; But Orwell...hmm... Orwell had this almost Nostradamus thing about him that simply fascinates me.

It is transparently obvious that both 1984 and Animal Farm were condemnations of tyranny, particularly Nazism, Fascism and Communism, all of which dominated the political landscape of the mid and late 1940s. The brutality of World War II fought over an ideology of mad men, and the subsequent genocide in Stalin’s Russia no doubt provided Orwell with his writer’s consciousness. But what makes him remarkable is his ability to transcend his time. His observational acumen is not limited to the 1940s though. The same problems that plagued the world then, did so five hundred years before the world ever knew of him, and still do today.

Being encased in the bubble of our time, we tend to think that our moments here are the beginning and the end of it all. That’s our ego and sense of immortality talking, of course. The truth of the matter is that humanity is insane all the time, and it keeps repeating its displays of lunacy generationally. As an example, we, who lived through the attack on the World Trade Center, can now fully appreciate the gravity and reverence with which our parents and grandparents viewed the attack on Pearl Harbor. But a generation from now, those children will know what happened on September 11th, but they won’t know it in the same way that we do.    
       
George Orwell understood that, I think, and it is for that reason you can read almost anything he wrote, and simply by changing the names of the politicians and countries, you find that he is as relevant today as he was in 1949, when he wrote 1984. I don’t know why, but I thought of him as I began reading this past Saturday’s Wall Street Journal.
Of the nine stories listed on the “What’s News” section of the Saturday Wall Street Journal (January 28-29, 2012), four of them had to do with war, defense, or suicide car bombers. I added a little commentary, just because it pisses me off to read the same stuff over and over. But here are a few examples of George’s insight.

The first was an article entitled, “Pentagon seeks Mightier Bomb vs. Iran. This story had to do with the United States trying to develop a “bunker busting bomb” capable of destroying Iraq’s nuclear capabilities, at least temporarily. In short, it seems that in order to keep the crazies in Iran from getting The Bomb, we crazies make a bigger bomb capable of killing their bomb. What did Orwell say?

War is peace.
Freedom is slavery.
Ignorance is strength.”
George Orwell, 1984


Up next ...  Dissident troops teamed up with civilians in Damascus. Commanders of the dissident Free Syrian Army said they fought back the military and in some suburbs, using “hit and run” tactics supported by lightly armed civilians. This action marks a new phase of Syria’s conflict that holds the potential to move the capital toward
Chaos. This piece has to do with soldiers who once fought on the dictator side, but now fight on the freedom fighters’ side. I guess they are hedging their bets that Assad is going down and they don’t want to get caught in the aftermath. Either way, George seemed to speak to the justification of the freedom fighters cause, while still calling out the bullshit.

“Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.”
George Orwell


Finally, this just in- Dozens are killed in Attack on Iraqi Funeral Procession. A suicide bomber rammed his explosives-laden vehicle into a crowd that included the pallbearers at a funeral for an Iraqi army commander’s brother.

Needless to say that the apr├Ęs-funeral repast at Formaggio’s Ristorante in Baghdad was cancelled due to insanity.

“Perhaps a lunatic was simply a minority of one.”
George Orwell, 1984


Well, I’ve gone on way too long on the subject of writers and writing. Oh, there’s more I could have talked about, but I think you get the idea. And if you didn’t here it is in a nutshell; the world needs brilliant, free thought to progress. Censorship of any kind, which doesn’t harm anyone, cannot be allowed. Writers are our hope for the future of society. We need the ideas of those who aren’t afraid to proffer new ways of thinking. Their genius allows us to grow and form our own thoughts, our own paradigms, and our own truths which we hold to be self-evident. 

We are balancing ourselves in this turbulent time between those who would force their will upon us and those who want to move us to a better place, a more enlightened place. Whether by humor, satire, or terror, writers are the ones who will enlighten us and connect us. They will foster discussion and compromise when we differ in opinion. Where we end up is our own decision. If we list the things we have in common, we will find it far exceeds the list of our differences. It’s just a matter of using our heads, right George?

“Every generation imagines itself to be more intelligent than the one that went before it, and wiser than the one that comes after it.”
George Orwell


Write on!

That’s it. I’m done bitching. Everybody hug, everybody eat! Abbondanza!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Walking the Tightrope

I’m writing from my hotel room in Allentown, Pennsylvania, and if I can go for more than five minutes without that stupid Billy Joel song of the same name popping into my head, I can bring you up to speed on what’s been going on this week. I’m performing here at Wisecrackers Comedy Club. It’s Saturday, which means I did a show last night, and I’m happy to report that even though I was emceeing (Empress of Ceremonies), I got to do fifteen solid minutes up front and a couple of minutes in between acts. It wasn’t the ideal setting for developing continuity, but at least I got to try out some new things, some of which worked very well, and some either need to be discarded or worked on.

On Thursday past, I did a guest set at the Comedy Cove at Scotty’s Steakhouse in Springfield, New Jersey. It was open mic night, and wow, did that bring back memories!

There were about eleven comics on the bill, most of them young, twenty-something newbies, but there were at least four there who were going on for the first time in their lives. Two of them were very young (one was sixteen, if you can believe it), and the other two were probably in their forties. But the age difference didn’t really matter, because the look in their eyes contained the same abject fear that I experienced on May 30, 1980, when I stepped on stage for the first time.

Fear is a great equalizer. It transcends age, in a very primal way, and thrusts us all back to a yearning for the constancy of childhood, when all was safe and warm, when there were always clean sheets on the bed, and the familiar aromas of dinner were wafting through the house at six pm, right on time, every day. I call it “Mommy Time”, because in a right and just world, the thought of a Mom’s protective love triggers comfort, regardless of how it was in reality. If you had it, great; if you didn’t, you learn to create it in your mind.

As children, and later as adult humans, we come to love this routine, despite how much we may rail against it, because normalcy provides us with a sense of comfort and well-being. So, when we step out of our comfort zone, either by force and circumstances, or voluntarily (as in the open mic situation), our fear or flight response kicks in and we revert back to “Mommy Time”, regardless of how many years we’ve attained.  So when I saw these ‘comedy virgins’, wide-eyed with fear and anticipation, I knew exactly how they felt. And though my instinct told me to go over there and try talking them off the ledge, I knew that it would do no good; they had to go through their baptism by fire, come out the other side alive, and earn the right to call themselves comics.

To a civilian, this right of passage may seem overly dramatic. After all, soldiers, police officers and fire fighters go into battle and put their lives on the line every day, and you almost never hear about their fear. Usually, when they discuss it, they macho up and just say, “It’s part of the job” or something brave like that. And believe me when I say that I’m in no way comparing the danger level of those professions to being a stand-up. But consider this for a moment; in all of the aforementioned professions, the participants receive months and sometimes years of training. They are armed with tools, weaponry and the support of enormous organizations who are dedicated to their safety. There is fraternity and unity; the “I’ve got your back” ethic, which can offer some degree of   “Mommy Time” to the young firefighter rushing into a burning building. It doesn’t lessen the degree of danger or fear to which these courageous people are exposed, especially the first time they encounter it, but the sense of not being alone in it all can salve a lot of what’s going on in their gut.

Now consider the comic making that long walk to the stage for the first time. In him or her, you have a basically insecure person whose insatiable need for approval is so strong that he or she is willing to go before a room packed with strangers to get it. There has been little or no training, and the person is going up there armed only with words and this belief that somewhere deep inside, he or she has the ability to make this room of strangers laugh. The comic is charged with the responsibility of developing an intimate relationship with the audience in one minute or so, or risk silence-the ultimate rejection for the insecure.

Sometimes it’s even worse. I have seen first-timers encounter hostile audiences and not have a clue about how to handle them. Wounded and dying up there, you can see in their eyes the dissolution of a dream that they may have carried with them since childhood. All of a sudden, the kid who could always make his friends laugh is alone, naked from the waist up. I have had many of those sets in the beginning, and I can tell you first-hand that it is a horrible feeling to experience. And though it gets easier to endure over time, it never gets easy-even for veterans. Remind me sometime to tell you about my “Letterman” audition at Dangerfield’s. But back to Scotty’s (did you catch the irony of that name?), and my set.

I was to go up third on the roster, a great place to be in because it was early enough in the show for the audience to be warmed up, but not too late where they would be exhausted. I was to do five minutes (I had 15 prepared). Plus, it would give me a chance to see what I was up against, competition-wise. My biggest concern was bridging the age gap.

As it turned out, that wasn’t an issue at all. The previous few shows I’d done had re-ignited my ‘audience command’ skills pretty quickly and so ‘grabbing them’ wasn’t an issue. But I hadn’t had enough time onstage yet to edit a ‘TV’ set of 5 to 6 minutes. This set would be that test.

It went pretty well I thought. For the first time, I didn’t have to rely on notes (the brain doesn’t remember lines as quickly as it used to), and segues were much smoother than on any other previous shows. But most importantly, my confidence in the skills I have learned over the years are coming back. I am realizing that being transgendered is not a liability, but an asset. It gives me an edge that almost no other mainstream comic has. For the first time in my life, I feel like I am becoming fearless up there, because I have no secrets anymore. And let me tell you, that is one great feeling! So, the booker liked me, and the owner liked me. But most importantly, I liked me. And for a transgendered person, achieving that goal can be very, very difficult in this world of intolerance and hatred.

 I didn’t stay to see how these folks did. The weather was lousy and I had a long drive home. I’m sure that the ones who did well are still basking in the afterglow of their success, while the ones who didn’t fare as well are rethinking the Dream.

I was planning to wrap this entry up, but I just checked my Facebook Page a while ago and received a message from one of the audience members from last night’s show. Now normally, I wouldn’t share these with you, but I thought this one was kind of special. It’s meant for everyone, of course, but I particularly hope that my transgendered sisters and brothers take something from it. I’ve removed the person’s name, but nothing else. Here it is, verbatim.
Hi there! I just wanted to drop you a quick note to say kudos to you! My friend and I were in the audience last night at wisecrackers. BTW- there WAS another lesbian in the room... My best friend who although she has been out for over 15 years, was a bit shy to speak up. Anyway... I am a big comedy fan, and even had the great pleasure of knowing (name deleted) before his passing. I usually like to do a bit of research about the comedians I see, and stumbled upon your story of transformation! If I understand correctly, last night was one of your first times back on stage, if not the very first time back? I just wanted to commend and encourage you... Way to go! Follow your heart and your dreams! If being up there fills you with joy, then keep going! You have already done one of the bravest things and followed your heart to become who you knew you are... Don't let anything stand in your way. Kudos to you!

- Much Love,
(Name deleted)

And when I asked this person if I could reprint it, here’s the reply that came.

Post away! Good luck on your second show tonight, and please always know... For every ignorant, close-minded, hateful person you meet, there is also a tolerant, open-minded, loving person out there as well. I hope you encounter more of the latter.

I know they won’t all be like that, and I am doing my best to prepare myself emotionally for it. But I’m hoping that by offering some measure of understanding to those who don’t ‘get’ what we’re about, those folks who might be prone to hate or bigotry will take a deep breath, pause, and realize that we are no different than they. Until then, I'll just gingerly walk the comedy tightrope and try not to fall off. Having said that, there’s not much more to add to this, except to say, thank you to the humans in the group.

That’s it. I’m done bitching. Everybody hug, everybody eat! Abbondanza!



Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Neurotic Symphony

I’m having one of those nights when doubt takes a seat on my desk and just stares at me like an annoying leprechaun. He doesn’t say anything, but he has this knowing, Cheshire Cat grin on his face, as if to taunt me.

I know what the cynical bastard is thinking of course. Are you kidding Julia? Comedy? Variety shows? Really, at your age?  Come on, you’ve had your chance and you took a different road. Seriously, no one wants to see an old fart like you get up there and talk. Give it up; you’re just making a fool of yourself.

There is a part of me that believes those things you know? And believe me, they are not so deep down inside. I mean, at this point in my life I should be kicking back and watching The Big Bang Theory, occasionally commiserating with some old comic friends and reminiscing. I should be playing poker on Saturday with my girlfriends instead of jackassing up to Allentown, Pennsylvania for a gig. This blog is a labor of love (and occasionally hate), that fulfills a part of me because I know that some people actually read it. There’s a very nice lady in my life that doesn’t care if I’m transgendered, but who likes me just for me, and I think if I gave the relationship half a chance, it might actually develop into something sweet and wonderful. She’s funny and smart, and we both get orgasmic for pizza.  I run a small, but growing business that is just now starting to turn a profit. Wonderful stuff, isn’t it?  But all of it is being sidelined because of this comedy thing. And the question that pops up over and over again is, why? Why do I feel that I should have a different life than the one I have? I should be complete by now, shouldn’t I?

But I’m not. I’m as restless as a ferret on speed all the time. I dart around dipping my hand into everything, just to taste it all, hoping to find the replacement for performing. But it never comes. Always...ALWAYS, that little green son of a bitchin’ leprechaun is giving me that stupid, idiotic smirk of his. And right now he is doing all he can to contain himself and not bust a gut laughing at me. He knows what I’m thinking; could he be right about me being too old and it being too late to start again? Why am I doing this?

This is all about unfinished business, I think. My departure from comedy was sudden and abrupt. There was no tearful goodbye, no final show. I just dropped out of sight. What I couldn’t do was drop comedy out of my mind. And that’s why this mother-effer is here.

No... WAIT! That’s a lie. It isn’t about unfinished business. That’s bullshit. This is about more than that. The truth is that I’m five months away from my 60th birthday and it’s eating me up. This is about mortality and the realization of it. It’s ALL about the mistakes I’ve made and time wasted trying to undo them. It’s knowing that in the past, I always had decades left to change things. Old age was for other people, but not me; I was immortal!

 This feeling is also about the loss of people in my life that aches more now than it did when I came out to them. It’s about the time I’ve lost with those people that I will never, ever get back. And every now and again, it’s about the wondering of what life would have been like had I not listened to my heart and stayed a man.


Unfinished business, humph. Who EVER knows when their time is up? How dare I presume to be different, and think that I have special dispensation to plan business to be finished at a date to be announced?

Maybe this is what fear feels like. I’ve seen fearful people and they acted just like this. My father and mother were fearful and didn’t deal well with it. One drifted away into a bottle and the other became a recluse because of it. Am I destined to follow in their footsteps? Fucking leprechaun, that’s what you are! Not doubt, but FEAR. Don’t dream, Julia. Hopes and dreams are for the young. Why bother? You don’t have the time to dream. You should be preparing your nest, slowing down, taking it easy. Why, starting something new now is only going to end in disappointment, you know that. So just relax. You know you want to, don’t you?

NO! I don’t want to. My body may be falling apart, but my mind is sharp. I can still think and if I can think, I can imagine. If I can imagine, then I should be able to manifest anything.  Age is somebody else’s problem, not mine. Fuck you leprechaun! Just Fuck You!!!!

Still, the idea of relaxing is appealing. No. If I quit, I become like these old people I see who walk around all day with nothing to do but walk around. I want to make something, build something, and create something. And I want to do it until I can’t do it anymore. 

Still, I could focus on my business. That’s creating something, isn’t it? It’s not the same! All around my universe, words swirl about, like stars. It’s my dream to just pluck them from my mind, and put them together in ways that teach and make people laugh at the same time. That’s what it’s all about for me! That’s what jazzes me up! Why can’t I still do that and keep my business going? Why should I have to give up one for the other?

Still, it IS all going to end one day. Why bother to start? Because it’s not my day today! I don’t know when my day is. And even if it’s five minutes from now, I don’t want my last thought to be a fearful one. No! Fuck you leprechaun!

“My, you do say NO a lot, don’t you?”

What are you talking about, you little green pain-in-the-ass?

“Why you , ducks, of course. Don’t you hear yourself? You say no to EVERYTHING; No to old age, to comedy, to your lady friend, the show, all of it. You’re a regular rebel without a cause. Tell me... What do you ever say YES to?”

I say yes to plenty of things!

“Really ducks? Like what? Denial? Sabotage? Pain? Failure?

Those are things I’m comfortable with. It’s what I know best.

“Well love, that’s why you’re so miserable, don’t ya see? Look at ya...you who gets all puffed up like a big ole blowfish, braggin about how you take all these chances. Why you’re nothing but a big old coward, ya are!

Hey shut up, okay? I have enough on my mind. I don’t need you to sit there all night saying nothing, and when you finally decide to speak, you spout all this happy horseshit. But...I didn’t mean to interrupt you. So, if you have something to say...well go ahead and say it. Exactly why am I a coward?

“Well that’s easy love. You fight everything so that it doesn’t hurt you. There’s no risk in that. And there’s no winning that fight either. Sooner or later it all gets you, and there’s not thing one you can do about it. You talked about being a fearful person; well you are! You’re afraid of success, so you hide under the blanket of failure. Why don’t you try accepting it all for a change? Enjoy it. Laugh at it, like I do. Don’t you worry about how it all turns out because I’m here to tell you...  it turns out the same way for everyone...you die in the end!”

Okay, okay, I get your point. Obviously, my way hasn’t worked up until now. Maybe I should think about success for a change. But it won’t be easy. I’ve had a long time to cultivate my misery, you know.

“Don’t worry about a thing love. If you slip, I’ll be here for you.”

Smiling?

“Of course!”

I hate you.

“No you don’t. You love me.”

No.

“Again with the no? I though we discussed that? Now come on...”

Okay. Maybe I love you a little bit. You are me, after all aren’t you?

“YES!”

That’s it. I’m done bitching. Everybody hug, everybody eat! Abbondanza!



  




 

    



  



 



Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Showcases-What are they good for?

Last night, I received a rather disturbing ‘share’ on my Facebook page. I don’t know if it was intentionally meant for me or not, but it got me to thinking that since I am in the process of putting a weekly show together, I felt I needed to address it.

The posting was a copy of a previous post from Craigslist, and it was from a musician in Vancouver, BC. Apparently, a local restaurateur in the area was offering a showcase for musicians to come in and perform for free. In return, the musicians would have a place to perform and sell their CDs- in other words, showcase their talents. The musician responded by essentially offering the restaurateur the opportunity to come to his house and cook for him and his friends, for free of course. His point is obvious; creative people should be paid for what they do, and it is morally wrong for a club owner to profit exorbitantly without compensating the talent, and on that point I totally agree. Having said that, I think there are valid points to be made on both sides of the coin.

The relationship between performers and club owners has always been a contentious one. Performers feel that they are the reason patrons come into a club, and it is unfair that the club owner rakes in all the money while the performer receives a pittance for his or her participation in the club’s success. The club owner feels that he or she is taking the risk of sinking large sums of money into a club while the performer is taking none. Therefore, the club owner is entitled to receive the bulk of the money. As always, I believe the answer lies somewhere in the middle.

I have been both a musician and a comedian, though most of my career was spent as the latter. Back in the day, I was also active in working towards getting comedians the salaries and benefits they deserved as President of the now-defunct Professional Comedians Association. I also supported a movement in New York back then that nearly shut down all the showcases because comics weren’t being paid enough. Those of you who remember, will recall that we came very close to striking. The club owners heard us, realized our value, and a settlement was eventually reached. So whether or not the posting was meant for me is of no consequence, because I know that I have always come down on the side of my fellow performers on issues like this, and always will.

Having said that, I also want to make the point that showcases are now, as they were then, the wellspring from which new talent comes forth. One need only read the list of alumni from places like  The Comic Strip, Dangerfield’s, Catch a Rising Star and of course the original Improvisation, to see that the showcase club has been invaluable to performers over the years. Speaking for myself, I cannot imagine how I would have progressed as a comic without them. Is the system fair when it comes to wages for comics? Perhaps not, but it is equally unfair to say that without the showcases, most of today’s household comedy names probably wouldn’t have had the careers they enjoy. I also believe that it is reasonable to suggest that none of us ever traversed the city, doing three, four or five of these places a night, for the money. That wasn’t their function.    These place were (and still are) where both new and seasoned comics could learn and hone their skills. They are the places where the six-minute TV “set” was worked on. They were where career-making auditions happened for Carson, Leno, Letterman, et al. What’s more, the showcase clubs (usually in the bar) were the original social networking sights for up and comers and veterans to establish connections, get gigs, and find out what was generally going on around town. Here, ‘war’ stories about the trials and tribulations of certain road gigs could be traded, and lifelong friendships forged. The showcases were where the business of show business was learned. The money sucked, and still does, but not everything is measured in dollars and cents. Learning one’s craft does not make a performer less professional; it makes him or her more so, in my opinion. Doctors, lawyers and skilled workers must do internships to learn to be capable at what they do; shouldn’t performers have to do the same? The simple fact is that performers need an audience to perform for, and the showcases offer that. They are our college, as well as our fraternities and sororities. You may find that at some point in your career, you feel you don’t need them anymore, but what about the people coming up who do?

I mentioned earlier that while I am not sure that this post was directed at me, I felt I had to address it anyway. Let me explain why.

If you look to the right of this post under my “Upcoming Appearances”, you’ll see that beginning Wednesday, February 22 of this year, I am presenting what I hope will be a successful, weekly variety show that strays from the “three-comic” model we’re all used to, and instead, attempts to bring back the spirit of the original showcases. My sincere hope is that it will be a sort of free-wheeling event where comics, musicians, and singers can come and without pressure, just have some fun doing the things they enjoy, musically, comedically, and creatively. Because it is a brand new room, I have a very small budget to work with, but I will pay the performers I book on the show, albeit not what they would get for a legitimate gig. But unlike said gig, I am encouraging experimentation. I want my fellow performers to try the bits and music that the comedy club, fire house gig or cruise ship would never permit. I am looking forward to exciting nights of  great improvisation and thrilling musical performances. Hopefully, it will grow to become a place for performers to be seen. No, you won’t be able to retire on the money, but it just might make you grow. So if that sounds like the kind of place appeals to you as a performer, then shoot me an email and we’ll talk. If it doesn’t, I wish you Godspeed and all the success in the world.   

I want to close this out by saying that as performers we are always growing, or at least should be. We were given a very special gift, one that few people have and nearly everyone wants. By the same token, we are also always in the precarious position of proving our worth, coming out with a new product; keeping it fresh, so to speak. That is our responsibility. Because of my eleven year sabbatical from comedy, I find myself in the unenviable position of having to prove myself once again. Tomorrow, I will be doing a guest set at a club in the hope of getting a gig there. There’s no money, but I understand that. I am showcasing my talent as I did way back in 1980, when I first performed at the Jade Fountain in Paramus, New Jersey. I am doing it because I want the gig and I am an unknown quantity. Doing so doesn’t make me less professional. That’s just where the work is.

A very wise and talented performer for whom I have great respect told me at the very beginning of my career, “to work whenever and wherever ‘they’ll’ let you. Don’t worry about the money-that will come eventually. Just be the best, most original YOU, and they will find you”. Thanks Rodney, for those words. They have served me well, and continue to do so.           
 
That’s it. I’m done bitching. Everybody hug, everybody eat! Abbondanza!



Saturday, January 21, 2012

My Irrelevant Design Theory

When I take a look around at the crop of Republican candidates for President of the United States, it is awfully difficult to make a case for Intelligent Design, which is the oft-touted favorite origin theory of the religious right. Looking at the same bunch, it is equally as daunting a task to make a legitimate argument for Darwin’s Theory of Natural Selection. I need only to point to the existence of Donald Trump to instantly disprove both of those theories.

Maybe it’s just the tiny microbe-sized mind given to me by their Intelligent Designer, but I just can’t imagine that somewhere out in the cosmos, a bearded, six-hundred foot tall ‘Creator’ who bears a striking resemblance, by the way to the late psychedelic guru, Dr. Timothy Leary, is sitting at a giant console, with levers, flashing lights, and the Supernatural Gizmonic Planetoid Synchronizator 2000, deciding which planets to fling around a sun at just the right distance to support life as we know it, and which ones to just blow up because He’s a man and we know how they love to blow things up. With all the gazillions of planets and stars, it just seems like a full time job, doesn’t it? My innately inquisitive mind forces me to ask, if this Being is that intelligent, why would He want to work so hard, or at the very least, learn some managerial skills and delegate a good percentage of the Universe work?

What’s more, if, like the Bible says, this Being rested on the seventh day, how come the whole shebang didn’t just go kaflooey and stink up the Universe while He was kicking back and reading the Sunday Remulack 5 Tribune? Having been an amateur scientist in my youth, I learned the valuable lesson in not paying constant attention to an ongoing science project and the havoc one can wreck by not doing so. I still have scars on my arms dating back to 1964, the result of a brief childhood flirtation with alchemy, when I tried to turn the lead-based paint on my bedroom walls into gold and was distracted momentarily by the tempting presence of a Hostess Twinkie on my workbench. Sure it was an imaginary Twinkie caused by lead poisoning, but the resulting explosion was exactly the same as it would have been, were it the genuine article of abnormally moist sponge cake and sensual, axle-lubricating cream inside. And even though my sister eventually regained the use of her eyelids,  and it wasn’t until 2006 that the Environmental Protection Agency deemed our little apartment habitable for humans once again, I still feel somewhat responsible when you consider that the entire disaster was caused by the momentary distraction of a snack cake’s allure. Now, try to imagine how often the Intelligent Designer is interrupted with prayers and pleadings for things like food, winning lottery tickets, and sports teams praying for a victory and a giant playoff bonus. There’s just no way He could possibly run EVERYTHING without screwing up once in a while. What more proof do you need? So put that in your pipe organs and smoke it, Creationists!

These sorts of phantasmagorical Creationist stories have been around since the beginning of mankind, probably originating right around the time of Richard Simmons’ birth. Although the Judeo-Christian-Muslim version is of the gentle, fairy tale, Adam and Eve type, some of the others are just downright scary enough to keep you awake through a fortnight of Three’s Company reruns, or at least long enough to find out what the duration of a fortnight is. Therefore, in my never ending quest to bring you hard-hitting essays on subjects you would never give a moment’s thought to otherwise, I have scoured the internet looking for pertinent information on this subject that can dull your otherwise interesting  lives by simply reading it. In spite of that, I recently read an article entitled The Top Ten Intelligent Design (or Creation Myths) by Anthony Duignan-Cabrera and Tom X. Chao on Live Science.com, which explores the subject of “What the Hell are We Doing Here?” in depth. I have used info compiled by Messrs. Duignan-Cabrera and Chao and am CREDITING THEM COMPLETELY FOR COMPILING IT. So, all you SOPA addicts out there just leave me alone, because their information is public domain and I don’t make any money from this thing anyway. 

So let’s get back to Creationism and see just how enlightened and informed our early ancestors were about their own origins. Let’s start with... oh ...the Greeks, since they seem to be in the news a great deal lately. Here’s how the founders of modern civilization thought they came to be on planet Earthos.

In the beginning there was Gaia, or mother earth. She, being a good mother, created Uranus (write your own personal joke here), who was the sky. In what can only be described as one of the great cross-breeding events in history, Gaia somehow had sex with Uranus and the union created offspring worthy of the Addams Family- to whit; the Hecantonchires, who were 50 headed monsters with 100 hands and the giant, one-eyed Cyclops. Once the genetic errors were corrected, these two finally settled down and raised a family of 6 sons and 6 daughters, which as we all know was the basis for the Broadway musical Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.

Like most parents, Uranus wasn’t at all happy with his kids and since there was no Division of Youth and Family Services back then, he imprisoned them in the bowels of the earth. I guess if one has to be imprisoned in bowels, it is far better to be in the earth’s, than in human bowels. Still, one cannot help but titter at the irony of a guy named Uranus imprisoning his kids in bowels. I could go on, but it pains me to watch my IQ drop so dramatically in such a short period of time, so I will move on.

Anyway, Gaia was not thrilled with how Uranus was treating the kids. According to an interview in Greek Mythology Monthly, Gaia “felt really bad, especially around the holidays. I used to cook for all the monsters and kids, and now I feel alone, you know? I swear, Uranus can be such an asshole sometimes!”

Eventually, the loneliness got the better of Gaia and like any doting mother who wanted to help the kids, she sprung to action. So one night, when Uranus was watching the semi-finals of Dancing with the Stars, she made this huge sickle out of old tin cans and a baseball bat, and snuck it down below to her son, Cronus, who later became the god of timepieces. She also left the door to earth’s bowels unlocked, as part of her master plan.

Later that night, after finishing yet another bottle of Harvey’s Bristol Cream, Uranus staggered up to bed in search of Gaia. His hope was a night of amorous frolicking with the wife, but instead, the minute he began pawing at her, old Cronus jumped out of the closet, swinging his sickle, and cut Uranus’s genitalia right off! OMG!

As Uranus’ blood poured out of the spot where his member used to be, so did MORE MONSTERS!  The is the first recorded instance of a urinary tract infection, by the way, and what a doozy it was!  And his testicles,  apparently were so large that the seas foamed up when they crash-landed in them, and magically produced Aphrodite, who in turn produced Wonder Woman. It was a, ahem...seminal moment in Greek mythology.

Cronus went on to father Zeus and the Olympians, though we don’t know who the mothers were, thereby making him the first single parent. The kids adored the old man and on the second Sunday of every June, began hanging medals around his neck, which is where Fathers’ Day, the Olympic traditions, and most important, Greeks, come from.

Pretty amazing stuff, huh? Well if that didn’t get you, how about the Hindu version of Creation? Here you’ll discover that Julia Child, the world famous French Chef is actually the MOTHER OF US ALL! Sounds impossible, no? But wait, I’ll let the Hindus explain it.

Once upon a time there was a giant being named Purusha (English translation, Julia Child). Now, Purusha had sort of what you might call a distinctive look, being the proud owner of a thousand heads, eyes, and feet. Now you might argue the Julia Child connection by saying, “Well she didn’t have a thousand heads, eyes, and feet”, and you would be correct, of course. But please bear in mind that she was indeed, a giant being, and the Hindus believe in reincarnation. Are you following my logic? Good! Because there’s more proof in the pudding, so to speak.

For some unexplained reason, the gods got together one day and decided to sacrifice Purusha. Personally, I think it was Purusha who made the sacrifice, but why quibble? In any event, when ‘P’ was indeed sacrificed, his body produced clarified butter, a key ingredient in all of Julia Child’s recipes! This butter created all the birds and animals, both of which Julia Child cooked regularly! Need I say more?

I could go on with these stories because each one is crazier than the next. It just so happens that in our time, and by that I mean these past two or three millennia, the Adam and Eve story is the one that just caught on, kind of like Pinkberry. But it could have been the Persian version (wow, accidental internal rhyme!), the Japanese, the Chinese, or even the Aztecs, whose version of Creation includes a ball of feathers that fell from the sky, which had the power to impregnate women just by them placing it in their waistbands. Jeez Louise, unwanted pregnancies from accessorizing-what next?

Look, I don’t know if Adam, Eve, Gaia, Purusha, or Uranus ever really existed, though I doubt it. For all I know aliens could have landed here millions of years ago in a reconditioned 1958 Ford Edsel and had their way with the female hominid population. I don’t really care if my ancestors looked like fish or monkeys, although I’m pretty sure it was monkeys judging by the looks of a couple of them. What matters to me is where we are right now and how we handle this moment. Because if we don’t learn how to love one another and get along, one of these days this Natural Selection by an Intelligent Designer is going to pull the lever on the Supernatural Gizmonic Planetoid Synchronizator 2000, and is going to select us for extinction. And then who will entertain us the way the Republicans have?

That’s it. I’m done bitching. Everybody hug, everybody eat! Abbondanza!   




Thursday, January 19, 2012

Reality Bites.

A recent poll taken by my family and friends shows that 92.9% (+ or – 4%) of them believe that I have no connection at all to reality. They cite my recent revelations that I regularly go out to dinner with dead historical figures such as Amelia Earhart, who I’ve been dating for quite a while. Also on their reasons for doubting my grip on reality include, traveling through time, and knowing the exact value of Pi. 

Now normally I would agree with them 92.9% (+ or – 4%) of the time, but in this case they are dead wrong. You can’t reach the stature that I have in the literary and comedy communities (2 Emmys, and a Pulitzer) and not have a firm grasp of what is real. And so, on the advice of my good friends, Jack Kerouac and Melvin Belli, who urged me at knifepoint to do some outlines for television shows, I have acquiesced to do so, though it lowers my standards to several stories below anywhere I ever thought possible. But what type of show?

My criteria for deciding on the sort of show I’d write about came from the same criterion that drives all my decisions; will my friend Humphrey Bogart approve? And the other is, “How much money will I make from this?”

I’ve been trying to come with new ideas for a reality show, since it seems that there is an insatiable appetite for them. Some of them are fun to watch, like Gold Rush, Pawn Stars, Hogs Gone Wild and American Pickers. But television, never one to miss an opportunity to capitalize on a good thing, seems to be recycling the same ideas. So recently, I took a production meeting with the people in my head and kicked around a few ideas for some reality shows I’d like to see. Tell me what you think.

TALI-BANANAS! ­Each week, a group of  crazed religious extremists have to switch places with a Midwest Iowa family and try to get through one week without setting fire to something, screaming “AY YAIYAIYYAIYAIYAIYAI!” for no apparent reason, shooting a machine gun into the air, or saying “Death to America!”. After one week, they go back to their homeland and try to locate the hideout where the Iowans are being held hostage. The first team to find the Iowans wins 72 virgins. The losing team has to scour the world in search of 72 virgins

Trans-Santorum-sylvania- ­Rick Santorum, his family and everyone in his hometown in Pennsylvania have to live a week in their opposite gender. Watch as Rick tries on his new wardrobe for the first time, deals with the wacky effects of estrogen on his body, and tries to get a job as a transgender female; hilarious! It’s just like the TV show Working it, only funny because it’s played by a real dick!

The Real Housewives of Newt Gingrich- Newt de-converts from Catholicism and becomes a secret Mormon. He marries a total of 52 women, making him the first human time-share. Each week, a different Gingrich wife comments on the joys of only having to spend one week a year with him, while the other 51 wives campaign behind his back for Barack Obama.

Dr. Ron Paul’s Extremely Harsh Makeover- Dr. Ron takes a good long, look at America, declares martial law and systematically goes hog wild, stripping the Constitution down to two paragraphs and showing us what life in America was really like before 1789. Special guests include: Roe v. Wade, Brown vs The Board of Education, the Emancipation Proclamation, and Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Weekly features include the National Rifle Association Dancers and The Libertarians, an improvisational theater troupe who will each week “roast” a member of the American Civil Liberties Union. Must watch TV! (No seriously... it will become law that we MUST watch it)

Mitt Romney’s, Not in My Backyard!A silver Airstream trailer towed by a family of eight from the Ozarks, sets up camp in Mitt’s backyard, after erroneously confusing it with a national park. Mitt, in a nearly human display of emotions, tells the butler to inform the squatters that they must leave or he will release the hounds. The Ozarkians (not to be confused with one of Ron Paul’s interplanetary friends), kidnap Mittens instead, and take him on a romp across country where he is shown American life as it really is. Watch this gripping drama as the Clemens Family, Buddy and Fern, the kids-Trevor, Buddy Jr., Leigh-Ann, Marjorie and baby Cletus, along with their Rottweiler, Hercules, show Mitt how to unclog a toilet, eat pizza with just his hands, live on $30,0000 a year, and be unemployed when all you have is $500 in the bank!

Those are my top five titles. There were others of course that I had to cancel because of some untimely developments such as, Marcus Bachmann’s-Cruisin’ up Denial, Jon Corzine’s 20 Billion Dollar Treasure Hunt, and Fred Phelps-Dancing with the Devils, all had potential but had to be shelved.

I’ve given a lot of thought to reality, and to be honest, I don’t hold out much hope for it because it is such a subjective thing. Mitt Romney seriously believes that making 40 thousand dollars for a speaking engagement isn’t “a lot of money”. That’s his reality because to someone worth a quarter of a billion dollars it really isn’t a great deal. Santorum’s reality is that it is better for children to have a father in prison than to have a gay parent at home. Even I don’t let my thoughts get that crazy.

The down side to anyone’s reality is that it might lead to zealotry. Loosely defined that’s when one person’s reality gets infected and turns into craziness; this in turn, begins to fester, bubble and spill out all over your docile reality, usually resulting in a disease ending with the suffix ism. Communism, Fascism, Racism, Liberalism and Conservatism; they all have ism at the end, which automatically denotes that someone who believes in them will eventually want to kill you, thus upsetting your reality.

Every person on the planet has his or her own reality. Stalkers believe that they are within their rights to follow a person around in secret, because their reality causes them to believe they are in love with their stalkee. Ultra-Religious people feel that they have the pipeline to The Truth, and God help anyone whose reality differs.

All of which brings me back to my version of reality. If I want to believe that I can make a Ball Park Frank sing an operatic aria, so what? If the idea of having my own personal tuba collection makes me happy, that’s my reality. It is also what God calls free will, for those of you who believe the Bible is the go-to book for the answers to everything. So to all of you who believe you are right about EVERYTHING, listen up; leave me the frig alone. I have my reality. It works for me. And that’s all I need. Isn’t that right Amelia?

That’s it. I’m done bitching. Everybody hug, everybody eat! Abbondanza!






    


          

Monday, January 16, 2012

In Whose God Do We Trust?

I’m at the age where I really need to so some serious afterlife planning. Every morning, when I hear the sound of my aching joints reluctantly snapping into place as I climb out of bed, I am reminded of my own mortality and the fact that I haven’t yet made a decision as to which God I should invest my spiritual wealth. I don’t want to make the same bad God-choices that I made with my 401k, because eternity is a really long time and I want my salvation to last. But with so many versions of God out there, it’s hard to know which one is going to get me the best eternal return on my devotional investments. After all, I don’t want to end up spiritually bankrupt.

These days though, it seems you can’t pick up a virtual newspaper without seeing a story about God. Whether it’s the ongoing praise or mockery of Tim Tebow’s heartfelt beliefs, the call for a new jihad by some wild-eyed Middle Eastern maniac religious leader or the implication by a similarly wild-eyed maniac home-grown minister that God is punishing America for its sins, God appears to be very active and very angry. It’s all very confusing to my simple mind since it seems that by following one group’s vision of Him, you automatically piss off about fifty others. All of them claim to have God’s private number on their speed dial, and also to know His most intimate thoughts and desires via His Holy Facebook pages.  

I kind of feel bad for God, actually. It used to be that everyone sort of half-assed worshipped Him on whatever specified day of the week was required by their particular religion. Usually it was a Friday, Saturday, or Sunday, and we begrudgingly trudged to whatever our designated building was to pray for our heathen brethren’s salvation, sing a few songs, all while secretly resenting having our weekend screwed up. God was up there (we assumed), smiling and happy with all of us, even though He knew we were sinners and we didn’t really want to be there in one of His many houses. Think of your childhood Christmas mornings, and recall your parents forcing you to go to your grandparents’ house when all you really wanted to do was stay home and play with your new toys. It was kind of like that.

Back then, even if you felt that every other person’s religion was kind of weird, you kept it to yourself since this was America and we had the freedom to worship as we pleased. These days though, everyone seems to want God to take sides. Everyone wants Him to not only choose whose religion is the best and most popular, they also want Him to punish (in the most horrible way) those who follow a different spiritual path or worse, those who opt-out altogether. It’s as if we’re back in high school where God is the most popular kid in class and everyone wants to claim Him as his or her best friend. If you’re in the clique, you’re cool. But if you fall into the geeky nerd category, count on getting beat up several times a week. I know the monthly financial nut for keeping a church going is huge; but really, some of you are putting way too much pressure on Him.

None of this religious version of Fight Club ever really bothered me much. In fact it was kind of fun to watch grown human beings (mostly men, by the way), engage in the weekly version of My God Can Beat up Your God.  But my attention is grabbed when it comes to how MY country is run. And in the coming Presidential campaign, it is an issue that clearly needs to be addressed. So for that, let me bring in my old friend, The Constitution of the United States of America to clarify a few points. Connie, are you there?

“Yes Julia, I am!”

How are you these days?

“As well as can be expected for a woman of my age. I’m feeling a little neglected and ignored lately though.  When you’ve been around as long as I have, some people just sort of take me for granted and put words in my mouth, you know?”

Yes, it is sad how we treat the elderly in this country. After all, you have so much to offer in terms of life experiences and wisdom. Well, I for one am glad you’re still alive and kicking, as are most of the readers here are, I’m sure. I was wondering if you could clear up a few things for us today. See, we’re about to elect a President and Congress people in the fall, as you may know. And many of the Republican candidates seem to think that they have the right to impose their personal religious views on us. They want to legislate their religious beliefs into law so that their vision of America prevails; leaving the rest of us to either toe the line or incur their wrath. Can you clear that up for us?

“Oh my! Really, Julia? Oh, that IS a serious problem. Of course I’d be happy to straighten them out.”

Thank you Connie. What’cha got for us?

“Well dear, it’s all laid out in my First Amendment. You remember that one, don’t you?”

Yes ma’am, I sure do. It’s one of my favorites!

“As it should be, sweetie... But it sounds as though your Republican friends need to be reminded again, so here it is.”

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. 

So are you saying that even though we are all different and that we may not always agree on things like God, we have a right to our beliefs?

“Yes, of course! Anything less than these rights would result in tyranny and oppression and we’ve had just about enough of that, haven’t we? Tell me, why are you asking me these things? Is the country alright?”

Gee, I never could fool you could I, Connie? No, I’m a little worried about the future of America, to be honest. There is growing movement of intolerance in this country for people who are different than those in power. Lots of folks are seeing changes here that I’m sure weren’t anticipated by the framers of America and they respond to their ignorance with hatred. Frankly Connie, it worries me. I’ve never seen anything like it in my lifetime. For instance, we have a black President now, did you know that? 

“Wow! That’s great! What’s the problem?

Well, there are some, who while they don’t say overtly, don’t like the idea of a black man, a woman, a Jew, a Catholic, or a Mormon, really, anyone who isn’t like them rising to the highest office in the land. In fact, when President Obama first came to office, they waged an all-out campaign to prove that he was a secret Muslim. It seems like those folks are not judging people by the content of their character, you know?

“Well what would it have mattered if he were a Muslim, Julia? As long as he is a good person, didn’t betray his country and works for the good of all the people, what does it matter? Oh this is so silly! It’s all spelled out in Article 6. Here, show this to them.”

No religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States

“Anything else, Julia?”

 No Ma’am. You’ve cleared up a lot of things. Thank you for being you!

“Aww, you’re welcome hon. And just for the record, your issues are nothing new. Why, way before I was even born this kind of crazy nonsense was going on.”

Really?

“Sure! Why way back in 1635, a young minister named Roger Williams was banished from the Massachussetts Colony after he told the Church leaders there that he thought the Church of England was corrupt and false. He also told them that the King had no right to take land from the Indians without paying them. And... He believed that freedom was a gift from God, and that everyone had the natural right to religious freedom. Oh, and he was also a strong proponent that church and state be separated. By jingo, he was a rabble rouser, that Roger!”

Connie, I never knew that. What happened to him after he was banished from Boston?

“Roger? Oh, he left there and founded Rhode Island. Hot stuff huh?

Amazing! Listen, I know you have to get going, but any words for us before you do?

“Just a couple of things Jules, before I do. All these crazies out there who want to re-write me will long be gone soon enough, but I’ll still be around. The thing is, you have to visit me once in a while and remind people that I’m still alive. As for the overly zealous religious people encroaching on your rights, just remind them of what my friend President Jimmy Madison meant when he said, “Religion itself may become a motive to persecution and oppression.” Don’t let the bastards beat you and the good people of this country, Julia. America was founded on freedom and it’s going to stay that way just as long as you remember Tommy Jefferson’s warning that the price of freedom is eternal vigilance. And just remember, if you need me, I’m always here, okay? Peace out America! I love you all!

We love you too Connie! Take care of yourself!

Well there it is. You don’t do much better than the Constitution of the United States of America. The old girl knows her stuff alright and I can’t top that. So I guess I’ll just start to wrap it up now.

It is becoming very apparent that the days of the white, male Protestant’s domination of this country are just about over. You all have had a long run, for a very long time. You haven’t always made the best decisions, but thank goodness, the founders laid down some great stuff at the beginning of it all to keep you all in check. America is changing,  and if you all don’t get wise to that fact, you are going to have some extremely pissed off people on your hands.

 If the Great Experiment that is America is to work, we have to go back to our core beliefs. Just because the founding fathers never counted on the actual success of America in both elevating and incorporating such diversity into the population, doesn’t mean that those truths which they held self-evident; that all men and women are created equal are still not true. We are all one nation under a unifying spirit. It’s not your God, or my God, it’s us. We, who hold the spirit of whomever or whatever blessed us to live here, have the ability and the power to move ourselves forward and upward.   
   
As for what God wants, if I were Him, I’d book myself on Meet the Press next Sunday and just lay it all out there and clear it up, once and for all. Why He doesn’t is a mystery to me, but as we all know God works in mysterious ways. No matter though; I love a good mystery and can’t wait to find out how this one works out.

That’s it. I’m done bitching. Everybody hug, everybody eat! Abbondanza!